October 26, 2010 at 1:43 am by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves
Number 10: Carlos Perez – LHP (19) 6’2″ 195 LB. Last Year’s Rank: Unranked.
Carlos Perez was a July 2, 2008 sign out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He was the recipient of the biggest bonus the Braves handed an international player that year ($600,000). He skipped the Dominican Summer League entirely, making his professional debut stateside in the Gulf Coast League as a 17-year old last year. This year the Braves sent him to Danville to start the year and promoted him to Class A Rome after six starts. Unfortunately a cracked rib limited Perez to two starts in Rome. He finished the year with a 1.62 ERA, a 1.154 WHIP, and a 31-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 39 innings. Perez throws a power sinker that sits 90-92 MPH, a plus curve, and a developing change up. With his size and stuff, Perez has top of the rotation potential. His much-anticipated full-season debut will take place next year, and don’t be surprised if he shows enough to end up near the top of the 2012 version of this list.
Number 9: Brandon Beachy – RHP (24) 6’4″ 220 LB. Last Year’s Rank: Unranked.
Brandon Beachy was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2008 out of Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana. He hardly pitched in college, but he caught the eye of a Braves scout pitching in a summer league following his junior year. The Braves signed him to a $20,000 bonus and he rocketed through their system thereafter, making it to AA during his second professional season. This year Beachy started the year in the Class AA Mississippi bullpen, but was so successful the organization moved him to the Mississippi rotation. It didn’t slow him down one bit, and after six spectacular starts he was promoted to Class AAA Gwinnett. He finished the year with a minor league-leading 1.73 ERA (that and $4 will get you a cup of coffee), a 1.014 WHIP, and a 148-to-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio, allowing 5 homers in 119 and 1/3 innings. He wasn’t done though, because when Jair Jurrjens went down with a knee injury the Braves called on Beachy to make his MLB debut. He made three starts, pitching 15 innings with a 3.00 ERA, a 1.533 WHIP, and a 15-to-4 strikeout-to-unintentional walk ratio, allowing no homers. Beachy’s repertoire features a fastball that sits 91-93, a solid-average change up, and a fringe-average curveball. His command and control are outstanding–he walked only 2.1 batters per nine innings in the minor leagues–and he is very much a pitcher, rather than a thrower. He’s a finished product who profiles as a mid-rotation starter and would begin the 2011 season in most team’s rotations. Due to the depth the Braves possess, Beachy might begin the year at Class AAA Gwinnett, but if the Braves need a sixth starter, he’ll be the first man to get the call.
Matt Lipka was drafted in the first supplemental round (35th overall) of the 2010 draft. He signed quickly for slot ($800,000) and hit the ground running in the GCL before a 4-game promotion to Danville. He finished the year with a combined .288/.344/.380 line in 228 PA’s while stealing 21 bases in 24 attempts. Lipka has legitimate 80 speed and enough arm to stick at SS, but his motions in the field leave much to be desired. His speed will allow him to play somewhere up the middle, but he might have to settle for second base or–more likely–center field. Lipka won’t ever hit for a ton of power, but he should provide enough primary offense at a premium position to hold down a regular job. Outstanding work ethic and makeup round out his assets, and the Braves did very well to get Lipka at 35th overall.
Christian Bethancourt was officially signed on July 2, 2008 out of Panama for $600,000, though an agreement had been reached prior to the July 2 opening. He spent time in the DSL in 2008, the GCL and Appy League in 2009, and played a full season in Class A Rome in 2010. He finished 2010 with a rather disappointing .251/.276/.331 line with 11 SB’s in 14 attempts over 420 PA’s. Though the results leave much to be desired, Bethancourt’s tools are phenomenal. With an 80 arm and great agility behind the plate, he has the makings of a future gold-glove winning (and actually deserving) catcher. At the plate his mechanics are terrible, but he generates outstanding bat speed and has the tools to hit for average and plus power at the next level. He’s an above-average runner and figures to be more than just a pick-a-spot base stealer. Though there’s still a lot of development necessary, he’s already come a long way and has limitless potential.
Number 6: Arodys Vizcaino – RHP (20) 6’0″ 190 LB. Last Year’s Rank: Unranked.
Arodys Vizcaino was signed by the New York Yankees on July 2, 2007 out of Yaguate, Dominican Republic for $800,000. The Braves acquired him from New York in the 2010 pre season in the trade that sent Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan to the Yankees and Melky Cabrera and Michael Dunn to Atlanta. Vizcaino was sent to Class A Rome in 2010 for his full-season debut and made 12 impressive starts before he was promoted to Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. Unfortunately, elbow soreness–later diagnosed as a partial tear of his UCL–limited him to three starts at the Beach. However, Vizcaino avoided surgery and returned to professional baseball at the end of the year, tossing 2 and 1/3 innings for Rome in late August and early September. When he did pitch the results were fantastic, he posted a combined 2.74 ERA, a 1.066 WHIP, and a 79-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 85 and 1/3 innings while allowing 2 home runs. Vizcaino has incredible arm strength, effortlessly sitting 93-95 MPH and throws plus curveball. Though the stuff is impressive, there isn’t much room for projection in his 6’0″ frame and his unconventional delivery plus injury history may force him to settle into a relief role. Whatever role he’s used in, he’ll be very good (either a top of the rotation starter or elite closer).
Mike Minor was drafted by the Braves in the first round (7th overall) of the 2009 draft and signed for a club record $2.42 million bonus. After a successful, if brief, professional debut in Class A Rome and a stint in the Arizona Fall League, Minor was assigned to Class AA Mississippi to open the 2010 season. He stayed there for 15 starts before the Braves promoted him to Class AAA. Then, when Kris Medlen went down with a torn UCL on August 4th, Minor was summoned to the big club to take his spot in the rotation. He made 8 starts and 1 mop-up appearance for the big club down the stretch. Minor finished the minor-league season with a 3.44 ERA, a 1.155 WHIP, and a 146-to-46 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 120 and 1/3 innings while allowing 9 home runs. His major-league numbers aren’t as good, having posted a 5.98 ERA, a 1.574 WHIP, and a 43-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 40 and 2/3 innings, allowing 6 home runs. Minor was visibly tired for much of his major-league stint, which is understandable for players making their full-season debut, and overall there’s more to like about what he did with the big club than there is to dislike. His repertoire features a 89-93 MPH fastball, a plus change up, and an average curveball. If the uptick in velocity he exhibited in for most of the season is here to stay and Minor’s curve improves, he could be a top of the rotation starter. More likely he settles in as a durable, mid-rotation guy. He’s slated to break camp with the big club in 2011 and unless his Spring goes horribly wrong or Brandon Beachy pitches like an ace, he’s probably in the majors to stay.
Number 4: Edward Salcedo – 3B/OF (19) 6’3″ 195 LB. Last Year’s Rank: Unranked.
Edward Salcedo was signed by the Braves on February 23, 2010 out of La Vega, Dominican Republic for a $1.6 million bonus. He was 18 years old at the time. In 2007 he reportedly agreed to sign with the Cleveland Indians for over $1 million more than he received from Atlanta, but MLB’s investigation of his identity and age halted the process. After a two-year layoff, the Braves commissioned another investigation of Salcedo’s age, confirming he was in fact born on July 30, 1991 and guilty of no misrepresentation. Once he signed Salcedo got his feet wet in 23 successful Dominican Summer League games before the organization brought him stateside to finish the year. His first taste of baseball in the USA was a disaster, he hit only .197/.239/.295 with 56 strikeouts in 193 AB’s for Class A Rome. That type of production is tough to swallow, but Salcedo’s phenomenal tools combined with the fact that 2010 was his professional debut make it easy to look past. The organization currently has Salcedo playing SS, but he doesn’t move well enough to stick there. He does have soft hands, good instincts, and an above-average arm, which leads many to believe he’ll find his home at the hot corner. Salcedo is one of the best offensive players to come out of the Dominican Republic in awhile. He’s extremely strong for his age with ripped forearms and broad shoulders, he has the typical power-hitter’s frame plus an athletic build. He generates lots of bat speed and leverage and figures to be an isolated power monster while hitting for average. He’ll probably return to Rome for the 2011 season; don’t be surprised if he takes off and becomes a five-star prospect.
The Braves signed Randall Delgado out of Las Tablas, Panama in 2006 for a $50,000 bonus. He’s since become one of the top 50 prospects in the minor leagues. He began 2010 at Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach and was promoted to Class AA Mississippi after 20 starts. He finished the year with a combined 3.30 ERA, a 1.099 WHIP, and a 162-to-52 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 161 innings, allowing 9 home runs. Delgado’s repertoire features a power sinker that sits 92-94 MPH, plus slider, change up, and curveball. The in-game use of his slider has been forbidden by the organization thus far, and once he begins to use it he’s a candidate to fly through the upper minors. Delgado’s command is fantastic and his 3-pitch mix (without the slider) has been more than enough to get by thus far. He’s only about a year away and has top of the rotation potential, though he might end up being more of a mid-rotation guy.
Freddie Freeman was drafted by the Braves in the 2nd round of the 2007 draft out of El Modena High School in Orange, California and received a $409,500 signing bonus. He was promoted through the system in-tandem with his good friend Jason Heyward for most of his career. In 2009 a wrist injury limited his playing time and production, eventually shutting down his AFL campaign. In 2010 he was aggressively assigned to Class AAA Gwinnett to start the season, but it didn’t slow him down and he finished the season with a .319/.378/.521 line with 18 home runs in 519 PA’s. With an eye on Freeman taking over the big club’s every day first base job in 2011, he was given a proverbial cup of coffee in September. Though he hit only .167/.167/.333 in 24 PA’s, the performance was better than the results, and a pinch-hit home run off of Roy Halladay was a glimpse of what’s to come. Freeman is an excellent contact hitter with plus power to all fields, projecting as a yearly 25+ homer bat with a .300+ average. He’s a fantastic defensive first baseman with surprising mobility for his size, good receiving skills, and a plus arm (he pitched in high school). The only thing holding him back is his approach, but even that made tons of progress in 2010. If he’s healthy he’ll start most of the team’s games at 1B in 2011 and I don’t expect him to disappoint.
Julio Teheran was signed by the Braves on July 2, 2007 out of Cartagena, Colombia for $850,000. He was the top pitcher on the market and would’ve signed for a lot more money had his cousin not been employed by the Braves as a scout. He skipped the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League entirely, making his professional debut in the Appalachian League in 2008, though shoulder soreness limited him to 15 innings. The following year he returned to Danville for seven starts before the organization promoted him to Class A Rome for another seven starts. In 2010 he returned to Class A Rome for his much-anticipated full-season debut and surpassed all expectations, making it all the way to AA without slowing down at all and cementing his status as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. He finished the year with a combined 2.59 ERA, a 1.037 WHIP, and a 159-to-40 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 142 and 2/3 innings while allowing 9 home runs across three levels. Teheran throws an overpowering 94-97 MPH fastball, an 11-5 curveball, and a plus change up. He generates tons of swings and misses and ground balls. He has good control and there’s really nothing not to like about his game. His mechanics are a bit herky-jerky, but that’s not much of a concern. He’ll likely be sent back to Class AA Mississippi after big-league camp to start the 2011 season, but he’ll almost certainly be promoted at some point in the season, and don’t be surprised if it’s to Atlanta. He’s a future ace waiting for an opportunity, and provided he stays healthy he’ll be very good for a long time.
Programming note: the ‘Top Prospects’ page has been updated to reflect the 2011 list and the 2010 list has been archived. Both can be accessed at any time by clicking on ‘Top Prospects’ on the pages bar at the top of the site or by clicking here.